It’s all over. The Democrats finally have owned up to what everyone else in America has known for the past two and a half years. Dual-hatted Congresswoman and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz claimed that her party “owns the economy.” She recently told POLITICO’s Mike Allen, “We own the economy. We own the beginning of the turnaround and we want to make sure that we continue that pace of recovery, not go back to the policies of the past under the Bush administration that put us in the ditch in the first place.”
Alright, that’s not exactly a total coming out of the denial closet, but it’s a start. Rep. Shultz is right about the first part of her statement. The Democrats, and in particular President Obama, own this economy. The “beginning of the turnaround” part is a bit disingenuous; however, unless the turnaround consists of dropping from 9.8% unemployment in November 2010 to 8.8% in March 2011. But not so fast. It’s back up to 9.1% today. Not much of a turnaround, unless Rep Shultz meant a turnaround of the turnaround.
How about that “continue the pace of recovery” comment? If you are one of the perpetually-unemployed (especially if you are one of the newly-unemployed during that turnaround from 8.8% to 9.1%) then you probably don’t exactly like the “pace of the recovery.” I suspect the 14 million unemployed Americans would tell Rep. Shultz to stop – don’t continue – the Democratic version of a recovery.
That brings us to the “not go back to the policies of the past under the Bush administration” statement (how old is that getting?). Let’s look at some numbers. When George W. Bush was President, the unemployment rate began to slide above 6% during his last five months in office. There was a short period of time when it slipped above 6% during his first term, right after the Iraq War began, but within six months it was back below 6%. Bush’s last five months in office typically get the most scrutiny, and at its worst, the unemployment rate reached 7.4%. For only five months of his 96 months in office, President Bush presided over the highest unemployment rates of his Presidency, or about 5% of his time in office.
In contrast, the lowest rate of unemployment during President Obama’s tenure was 7.8%, in the month he was inaugurated, and it has only soared since. For the entire 30 months he’s been President – for 100% of his tenure — Obama’s unemployment rates have been higher than Bush ever experienced. Frankly, that’s something to be ashamed of, not to take pride in or to try to spin as a success story like Rep. Shultz recently did.
I won’t dignify the “in the ditch” comment except to say that a ditch looks pretty good in hindsight, compared to the sheer cliff we’ve fallen off during the last two and a half years. President John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Looking at the facts, the Bush years were Halcyon Days in contrast to today. Debbie Wasserman Shultz was right – Mr. President, you own the economy, and it’s time to fix it, instead of fixing blame.